Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Thursday stated categorically that no face-to-face classes will be held this coming school year in view of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
She said that it is now being discussed at the Department of Education (DepEd) how education can continue in the face of President Rodrigo Duterte’s position not to hold physical classes unless a vaccine against COVID-19 is developed.
Among the options being considered is the holding of online classes. However, Internet connectivity, something that is not within the reach of many students, presents a big stumbling block.
DepEd plans to open this school year in August, with Briones saying the health and safety of students and teachers are their most important concern in view of COVID-19.
Briones said there is no conflict between its plans for the coming school year and President Duterte’s position on minimizing the exposure of students to the disease by not holding physical classes at the time being.
“The President doesn’t want it, DepEd also doesn’t want it – to endanger the children,” Briones said. “I would like to emphasize. There is no conflict; there is no disagreement.”
“There is no debate on the pronouncement of the President and that of the Department because they are exactly the same — we will not allow,” she stressed.
The education secretary said “blended learning” may be employed in which flexible learning options are employed like asking parents to help students gain knowledge and skills while at home.
She added that DepEd will also respect the decision of some parents not to enroll their children until the COVID-19 problem is resolved.